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Feb. 29, 1912: Leap year babies!

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History Updated: February 29, 2012 - 3:27 PM
 
A reporter had to look as far as the editorial department for one of the half-dozen or so leap year babies interviewed for this story in the Minneapolis Morning Tribune.
 
 

Leap Year Babies Who Celebrate Their Birthday Today;
Grown-ups and Little Folks Revel Once in Four Years

Fond Parents Assist
in Arranging Parties

Children Who Get Poor Deal
on Anniversaries Rulers
for Day.

Two Clerks in District Court
to Smile and Work
Hard.

D. R. Summers Remembers
Every Birthday He Ever
Had.
 
Today is the red letter day of leap year. It is the birthday anniversary of those who have the proud distinction of having been leap year babies and with a proud and haughty mien, a few Minneapolis citizens will come down town today and with joy and pride they will explain, countenances abeam, that this is their birthday. Then they will call attention to the fact that the date is Feb. 29 and that this day comes but once in four years and occasionally it comes but once in eight.
 
Those in Minneapolis who got a poor deal on birthday anniversaries will make up for the scarcity of anniversaries of their natal day by celebrating today with fourfold enthusiasm.
 
The grownups and the children were alike in their eagerness for this date to come and gift-receiving will be popular with all the members of the Leap Year club.
 
In six homes fond parents are putting extra frills on the birthday parties of their leap year offspring and for the past week there has been a lot of shopping done by these same parents since they have to make it up to their juveniles, because fate dealt them one birthday to four that other children have.
 
Grownups’ Birthdays.
 
Some of the grownups who have birthdays today are calling it a holiday while others will be at work, and cigars, boxes of candy or any other little tokens of appreciation that may be placed upon their desks with birthday greetings will be pleasantly received.
 
When William J. Evans, jury clerk in the district court, reaches the court today he will wear a smile – a bit broad smile. Likewise will William Hughes, clerk in Judge Hale’s court. Mr. Evans is celebrating his eleventh birthday, although 48 years old. Hughes, who is 32 years old, is observing his seventh birthday. Both men had a birthday in 1896. Because of the odd century they were forced to go for eight years before celebrating again.
 
No 7- or 11-year-old youngster ever looked forward to a birthday anniversary with fonder anticipation or keener pleasure than Evans and Hughes. Weeks ago they began to count the days when they would have an opportunity to celebrate a birthday.
 
Holiday Plans Fail.
 
The pair had planned to make their birthday a holiday, but the fact that two special judges are sitting on the Hennepin county bench, prevented them from doing so. They will content themselves puffing at cigars presented by sympathetic friends.
 
“”There is just one satisfaction in having your birthday on Feb. 29,” said Mr. Evans. “You are not reminded every 12 months that another year of your life has been spent.”
 
“So far as I can figure out,” said Mr. Hughes, “Feb. 29 birthdays ought to be exclusive to the feminine sex. It would be just the thing for some of the girls who are depending on leap year.”
 
“I remember distinctly every birthday that I’ve ever had,” declared D. R. Summers, of the editorial staff of The Tribune. “When I was 4 years old I was the Little Lord Fontleroy of a children’s party at our home in old Virginia and the flowing locks I wore were entirely my own. At 8 I had the supreme satisfaction of staying away from school without having to play sick. At 12, I was on my father’s ranch in Kansas and spent the day hunting and trapping. At 16 – ah, that day – I had four signed articles appearing simultaneously in the four Kansas City papers. In the evening of that day I attended a commencement and was so enraptured with the music and my fair companion that I proposed – and was refused.
 
She’s Married Now.
 
“Sometimes I think that Feb. 29 is a lucky day. She has been married many years now and has three boys almost as big as I am. Next, after a lapse of eight years, and despite the plans of years as to what I intended to do on my birthday, by a trick of fate on that natal day I found myself in the little mining town of Cartersville, Mo., not knowing a soul there and with nothing to do but listen to the songs of some drunken miners until late at night, when a friendly train carried me to St. Louis.
 
“On my last birthday I happened to be at Hot Springs, Ark., but had to work unusually hard that day as newspaper people sometimes have to do. Had my picture taken, however, and bought a sack of salted peanuts. I look forward with pleasure for the prospects today as it is the first time in 16 years that I have been in a real city on my birthday. This is my fourth birthday that I have passed in the newspaper work, but it sums up nearly 18 years.”
 
Alexander Reynick of the Minneapolis weather bureau has arranged to take a day off and will leave to some one else the duty of recording the colors of the clouds, high pressures and impending atmospherical catastrophies. The reason for Mr. Reynick’s hilarity is that today is his ninth birthday.
 
Mr. Reynick is 40.
 
Mr. Reynick is 40 years old today, having been born Feb. 29, 1872. With him birthdays have been few and far between, and had he waited but a few months he and his son could have celebrated their joint birthdays in common, for the boy will be nine years old in June. Mr. Reynick, however, thinks that birthday anniversaries are rare enough with him without unnecessarily deferring them, and so will hold his rejoicings today.
 
Ernest F. Blankenhorn, 329 Fourth street northeast, is another Minneapolis boy who will make merry today. “Of all the days in the year, Feb. 29 for me,” said Blankenhorn, discussing the birthday that comes to him but once in four years. “It is so long since I had one,” he added, “that I scarcely knew what it looks like.” Blankenhorn was born Feb. 29, 1892. He missed a birthday in 1900, so that this is but his fourth. “There is one consolation,” he says, “in being born on the extra day of a leap year, a birthday appears bigger, more important and more enjoyable than if it came around annually.”
 
Young Women to Celebrate.
 
Two young women who are each 16 years old and who are today celebrating their third birthday are Miss Lillian Kane of 2220 Emerson avenue south and Miss Margaret White of Crystal Bay, Lake Minnetonka.
 
Miss Kane and Miss White are chums and it came about through the fact that they are not like other girls about birthdays, that is not like most girls. The two girls were born on Feb. 29, 1896, and neither one had a birthday until they were eight years old. Margaret White saw Lillian Kane’s picture in the Tribune when Lillian was eight years old and she immediately wrote to Lillian to exchange sympathy. They became acquainted and became fast friends.
 
Miss White had planned to have a birthday party this year, but when she found that Miss Kane was going to have a party, she gave up the idea and accepted an invitation to the latter’s birthday celebration. Lillian Kane will have a big birthday cake with sixteen candles on it. She says that if her birthday doesn’t come often, she has a good big celebration when it does come.
 
Lillian was born in Green Bay, Wis., but her parents moved here when she was three months old. She has celebrated all her leap year birthday anniversaries in Minneapolis. She is a student at St. Margaret’s academy. Her friend, Margaret White, is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick White of Crystal Bay, Lake Minnetonka, and she attends school in Wayzata. Miss Margaret White was born in Minneapolis.
 
Birthday For Twins.
 
Mr. and Mrs. William Begin have eight-year-old twins, who celebrate today their second birthday and there is consequently big doings at the Begin home at 1432 Fifth street northeast. Little Isabelle and William Begin are celebrating their second birthday with regret that such joyful occasions do not come oftener.
 
Other eight-year-olds, who are experiencing a birthday for a second time in their lives, are Catherine Skanse of 3321 Seventeenth avenue south; Ethel Teague of 3837 Chicago avenue; Ruth Marker, 714 Jewett Place, and Evelyn Alvira Johnson of 3329 Seventeenth avenue south.
 
Lillian Erickson of 4347 Pleasant avenue south, who is four years old, is having the first experience of her life in celebrating a birthday.
 
 

 

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